Inside Memphis Business
The IMB Tip Sheet gives you quick hits of Biz901 news around town. Read on, stay informed, see who's going where, and plan ahead. 
by Jon W. Sparks and Samuel X. Cicci

DECEMBER 27, 2019
Society of Entrepreneurs: Four new inductees
News from other sources: One Beale, CodeCrew, Liberty Bowl
Special Feature: The future of FedEx
Upcoming: Happy New Year!

Power Player: James H. Toles
Quotable: Meka Egwuekwe
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Society of Entrepreneurs Adding Four Members for 2020

     The Society of Entrepreneurs will induct four new members into the organization next year. They are (pictured clockwise from top left): film producer/director Craig Brewer; Edith Kelly-Green, partner in The KGR Group; Kent Wunderlich, CEO and board chairman of Financial Federal Bank; and Chris Woods, founder and president of Chris Woods Construction Co.,
     SOE was founded in 1991 to foster entrepreneurial spirit and recognize contributions of area entrepreneurs. Membership is of Mid-South business owners, presidents and other key executives. New members are mature entrepreneurs chosen annually by their peers. The 28th Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet will be Saturday, April 18, 2020 at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis.

Craig Brewer
     Brewer is a lifelong resident of the area where he developed the storytelling skills that would take him to Hollywood. His first feature film was The Poor & Hungry, filmed guerrilla-style around town. It won the Best Digital Feature at the 2000 Hollywood Film Festival and was acquired by the Independent Film Channel soon afterwards. That put Brewer on the radar in Hollywood and allowed him to make his second feature, Hustle & Flow, starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. It got an Academy Award nomination for Howard and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, Three 6 Mafia’s It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp. Following that was Black Snake Moan with Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. 
     The director has since done several other features and documentaries and helmed television shows, including several episodes of Empire. Most recently he released the acclaimed Dolemite is My Name with Eddie Murphy, and he's now working on Coming 2 America with Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and James Earl Jones.

Edith Kelly-Green
     Before Kelly-Green founded The KGR Group, she worked for almost 30 years at FedEx Express, gaining considerable recognition. She was vice president and chief sourcing officer, and also served as vice president-internal audit of FedEx Corporation reporting directly to chairman and founder Frederick W. Smith. She was the first black woman to receive officer status. During her tenure, she received three Five Star Awards, the highest performance award at FedEx. 
     After retiring from Fedex, Kelly-Green started The KGR Group in 2005 with her son, James Kelly and daughter, Jayna Kelly. KGR’s primary investments are Lenny’s Grill & Subs franchises and Wimpy’s Burger and Fries restaurants in the Mid-South. The KGR Group expanded from one location in 2005 to 13 Lenny’s stores in Memphis, Nashville, and northern Mississippi. The KGR Group has the largest number of Lenny's locations in the approximately 90-unit system. Organically and through acquisitions, revenues have increased over tenfold annually. Additionally, Lenny's has provided first jobs or launch pads for hundreds of Memphians who have gone on to college or trade schools. 
     Kelly-Green is on the boards of Sanderson Farms, BULAB Holdings, Inc., Methodist LeBonheur Health Systems, and Hattiloo Theatre. She is also a founding member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Circle of Friends, a founding board member and treasurer of the Women’s Foundation of Memphis, a founding member of the Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis, and a founding board chairman of the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.

Kent Wunderlich
     In 1987, Wunderlich joined what is now Financial Federal Bank. He is now chairman of the board, CEO and general counsel for the company. Prior to that, he was a member of Baker Donelson and became a partner in the commercial real estate section of the law firm.
     Financial Federal has been consistently profitable with current assets of $650 million. It is one of the few Memphis banks that did not take TARP money from the government during the financial crisis of 2008. Starting with only $2 million in paid-in-capital, the bank now has a book equity of approximately $80 million. It has one of the highest return-on-assets in the industry and emphasizes customer service and customized banking solutions.
     Wunderlich has been a board member of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy since 2012. He served on the Memphis University School Board of Trustees for more than 20 years, including nine years as Chairman. He has been on boards of charitable organizations in the greater Memphis community including the Boys and Girls Club of Memphis, Neighborhood Housing Opportunities Inc., and the Nature Conservancy of Tennessee.

Chris Woods
     Woods started his enterprise in 1985 to become a full-service commercial general contractor and construction management firm, providing consulting, design-build, pre-construction and other services. In the past year, the company has added six employees (up from 30) and converted 1,000 square feet of warehouse space into four employee offices. Though the company has been seeking to broaden its client base, Woods says the biggest accomplishment of the past year was seeing $40 million of the company’s volume come from repeat clients. In 32 years, CWC has grown to annual revenues of $70 million. 
     Woods says he emphasizes a "positive and friendly working environment combined with an incredible team camaraderie. In addition to our dedication to having satisfied clients, we are committed to our employees and providing the very best working conditions possible.”
     Every December, CWC contributes to local churches for their Christmas programs for the disadvantaged. In 2017, the Chris Woods Scholarship Fund was established at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in memory of Woods’ grandson. The company is a sponsor of Meritan’s Bike Tour and has assisted the University of Memphis in establishing a fund for a new construction management program.


> One Beale's Chance Carlisle says the development is on time and on budget. Read John Klyce's story in the Memphis Business Journal here.

> Peak season a challenge for companies looking for workers. Read Wayne Risher's story in the Daily Memphian here. 

> CodeCrew and Southwest Workforce & Community Solutions are offering a six-month, 40-hour per week software developer bootcamp beginning Feb. 3. Read more in the New Tri-State Defender here.

> Liberty Bowl is a boost for local economy. Desiree Stennett has the story in The Commercial Appeal here.


> Need to know what to do this weekend? Check out Memphis magazine's Five Things To Do This Weekend here. And for your New Year's Eve plans, check out the possibilities at the Memphis Flyer here.

It’s been a year of ups and downs for FedEx Corp. Earnings forecasts and share prices have dropped, there's the Amazon divorce, the costly acquisition of TNT Express in 2016 is still being reckoned with, and there are tariffs and a slowing global economy. That said, e-commerce continues to grow and there’s gold in those transactions. 

So as 2019 draws to a close, what are we to make of the logistics giant? Is it a glass half-full or half-empty outlook? The current issue of Inside Memphis Business has a long look by Andy Meek at how far the company has come, where it’s likely to go, who the players are, what the rivals are up to, and what milestones it’s hoping to achieve.

Read our story here.

Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.
This week’s Power Player is James H. Toles, principal, Toles & Associates, Inc. Established company in 1987. B.S., Civil Engineering, U of M. Former structural technician and structural design engineer, Pickering. Former project manager and administrator, MLGW. Former project manager, FedEx. Registered Professional Engineer in many states. Member, Consulting Engineers of Tennessee, Society of American Military Engineers, Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board.
For the complete list of Inside Memphis Business Power Players, go here.

"Adults who are often overlooked for opportunities in software careers are not only getting high-quality training in this lucrative field, they are also helping to fill the overwhelming demand from employers.”
Meka Egwuekwe, executive director of CodeCrew. A software developer bootcamp is scheduled to start in February. Read more here.

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